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Bill Would Extend Welfare Benefits To California Immigrants

 Karen / Flickr
 

Karen / Flickr

A California lawmaker is proposing the expansion of welfare and food stamp benefits to some non-citizens who live legally in the state. 

The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez would extend CalWORKS, the state’s welfare program, and food stamp benefits to several groups of immigrants. Among them would be children brought into the country by their parents and political refugees. Gonzalez says non-citizen military and their families would also be covered.

“If we really look at the military issue and look at the number of immigrants, unfortunately, who are still awaiting their citizenship who are in the military, or the number of spouses who are struggling to make ends meet,” she says. “This is just the right thing to do at the right time.”

But Gonzalez acknowledges the expansion would be expensive.

“The cost was very large. Any time you try to augment the CalWORKS system or food stamp system, it does cost a lot. And that is a big concern,” she says. “And it’s always an unknown because you have to factor in as if everybody would be taking advantage of it and that just doesn’t happen.”

A legislative analysis points out just 200 additional families receiving $400 in monthly benefits would add up to $1 million in ongoing costs. However, Gonzalez says her bill would provide a safety net to people who are legally entitled to one. The measure is currently being held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

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